We seem to be living in a divided country. But this column is about awareness, not politics or political correctness. There are some who are sensitive and keenly aware of their surroundings and the needs of others. While others sit at the opposite end of the spectrum, oblivious to anything beyond their own needs and desires. Of course there is a third group, who means well, but lack discipline and flow in and out of awareness on any given day. Even the most disengaged will notice a baby crying, a building burning or the weather changing, but the challenge begins with the subtle things. For instance, the volume of people talking on the phone in public, the respect shown to others entering and exiting a room, and the way we choose our words when communicating with others, all require a special level of sensitivity.
How is it that some people are more in tune with their surroundings, and even their own lives, than others? Not only can they feel and sense the effects of words and actions by others in their own lives, they sense the pain and distress these actions have on other people. God has obviously gifted some with a supernatural ability of discernment, but I believe He has given each of us the ability to be sensitive to others and to His Holy Spirit. Remember to keep in mind; as Christians, we are all maturing at a different pace, progressing with God’s help, to impact others with love.
As a six year old, I clearly remember sensitivity training. I was practicing diving into the country club pool. Sitting on the edge of the pool, with feet dangling in the water, was a group of prim and proper high society ladies. They were chatting it up, not paying any attention to anyone but their own group. They were in full make up and their hair was perfect. On one particular dive, in midair, I sensed my close proximity to the ladies and the sudden realization there was nothing I could do. Everything seemed drier than the ladies, and I could feel the anger and frustration even before I made it back to the surface to take a breath.
My mother was in a nearby lounge chair reading the Readers Digest. The ladies harpooned me like a fish, sending me to my mother for scaling. I was immediately reprimanded and sent to apologize for my inconsiderate and rude behavior. I spent the rest of the day watching the other kids swim while contemplating my poor decision. This particular class on sensitivity training seemed to heighten my awareness of others, and I never made that mistake again. Future diving was always done at the deep end of the pool.
Most expectant mothers have their own stories about things said to them while pregnant. When I was pregnant with the twins, some people would say the nicest encouraging things, while others would do the opposite. I used to think to myself, “Do they realize what they just said to me and how it sounded?” And of course who can forget the six weeks after delivery comments, “When are you due?” You want to say, “Hey, you carry twins and gain eighty pounds and let’s see what you look like six weeks after delivery.” We all make silly mistakes, but when it is pointed out to us are we dulled or sharpened by the mistake?
Self- examination is not easy to do; who wants to put their own heart on trial? But that is exactly what God asks us to do in Psalm 26:2, “Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.” We are fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and when we open ourselves up to him, he reveals our blind spots, weak areas and places of vulnerability. He fine tunes our spiritual and physical engine, if we are willing to listen to Him.
God offers strategies and ways to adjust, or reposition, and with our heightened sense of awareness we can avoid the blind spots. The Holy Spirit drives our sensitivity to His voice, seeking His will and His plan for our life. With His help we become sensitive to those he places in our path for encouragement, direction, and wise counsel. While we know iron sharpens iron, be careful to seek God’s counsel in prayer, and not depend solely on earthly knowledge, as many have grown insensitive, dulled by their own sense of right and wrong. We may be the most talented, most educated, possess a slew of affiliations, designations or credentials, but without God and his wisdom, we will only see things from our very limited point of view.
God encourages us in His Word to look around and take notice of our surroundings. Ephesians 5:14-17 says, “Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
And just as exercise requires commitment, it also takes commitment to hear God speak. Perhaps before you warm-up your body for a workout, you can do a ten minute warm up of your spirit by reading Psalms or Proverbs. Begin in prayer, and then pay close attention to what He might be saying to you in His Word. God is always available to you, but it is up to you to discipline your spirit through prayer, listening, studying, and obeying. And as you begin to see results in your body, God will reward your spiritual efforts as well when you seek His voice.
As you might have guessed, sensitivity training, from my point of view, is a lot more than holding the door for a mother with babies in both arms. My prayer is for all of us to dive into a deeper relationship with God. And the only way to recognize the voice of God is to know Him intimately through His written Word and through daily communication.
Theresa Rowe is the Founder of Shaped by Faith, Author of Guideposts’ Shaped by Faith, 10 Secrets to Strengthening Your Body and Soul, a Motivational Wellness Speaker, Health Coach and Host of Shaped by Faith Radio every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 am on 99.1 FM and 1490 AM WOMI. Listen: http://womiowensboro.com/listen-live/popup/
This Column appeared in the Owensboro Messenger Inquirer on February 25, 2017